Right To Protest Zoning Changes Survives NC Legislature: Report

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By Paul Mindus, The Saint Consulting Group

saintreportpicture3North Carolina’s protest petition law appears to have survived attempts by developers in the state General Assembly to repeal the right of neighborhoods to contest zoning changes by petition.

According to the Charlotte Observer, a provision to ban so-called protest petitions was in a regulatory overhaul bill passed by the House this month. But after negotiations with the Senate, it wasn’t in the final version of the 59-page bill.

As The Observer’s Jim Morrill wrote, neighbors are applauding the legislature for something they didn’t do.
“We’re very happy with what the legislature has not done,”  Melanie Sizemore, a board member of the Elizabeth Community Association in Charlotte, was quoted by the newspaper. “It helps with planning and the overall health of Charlotte.”
The Saint Report reported earlier this month that the proposed law would repeal the right for those who own land adjacent to a project to band together in a formal protest petition and insist that a city or town council assemble a three-fourths supermajority before approving zoning changes.
The proposed ban was openly supported by developers. The Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, known as REBIC, said in a blog post  that “it’s the elimination of the Protest Petition process that would have the greatest impact on property owners and developers, by removing a burdensome and costly process that effectively allows a small minority of citizens to hold a rezoning case hostage by forcing a supermajority vote.”
Click here to read The Observer’s report, the only account so far of this latest development. More reports will be added here as they become available.
For a history of the protest petition law, please read David Owens in the University of North Carolina’s Local Government blog – Protest Petitions: Going or Staying? 
Do you agree with developers that protest petitions are antiquated, or that neighborhoods should be able to force a supermajority vote? What do you think?


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